Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Safe Cooking for Food Allergies

It can be a challenge to cook when someone in your house has a food allergy -- especially if not everyone shares the same allergy. You may find yourself making separate meals with different ingredients using separate utensils.

Here is how to make cooking for a person with food allergies safer and easier.

Recommended Related to Allergies

How to Survive Spring Allergy Season

Spring is in the air. Literally. From weeds to spores to grass and tree pollens, the warm weather is almost here, driving airborne allergen levels through the roof. That means your allergy symptoms -- the sniffling, sneezing, and itchy eyes -- are in overdrive and apt to stay that way for months. What can you do? WebMD asked some of the country's leading allergy experts to weigh in with answers to your top questions about spring allergies. Here are suggestions for helping you find some much-needed...

Read the How to Survive Spring Allergy Season article > >

Allergy-Safe Cooking

  • Start with shopping. When you buy packaged foods, read labels carefully to see if they have the problem food in them. Food companies are required to say on or near the label if a food contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soy.
  • Clearly label foods as "safe" or "unsafe" before you store them. Use a different color marker for safe and unsafe food as a visual reminder.
  • Designate different shelves in the pantry and refrigerator for safe and unsafe foods.
  • Store all foods in sealed containers.
  • Go through your pantry often to make sure you have safe foods and substitutes on hand.

Wash Your Hands -- A Lot

It sounds simple, but one important step is to wash your hands often. Start by washing well with soap and warm water before you start cooking. Wash again between cooking with and without the problem food.

Don't use an antibacterial gel. Antibacterial gel alone may not remove some food triggers. Soap and water is a must.

Food Allergy Prep Precautions

Cross-contamination can happen if you use the same knives, spoons, measuring cups, cutting boards, pots, pans, grills, or other cooking equipment. To avoid cross-contamination:

  • If you can, first prepare the food for the person who’s allergic. Then fix food for others.
  • Have separate sets of utensils for preparing safe and problem dishes, if you can.
  • If you need to use the same cooking tools, put those contaminated with allergens into the sink or dishwasher right after you use them. Teach your family not to use them again until they're washed.
  • In between fixing safe and problem foods, thoroughly clean counters and other surfaces where food is prepared. For some foods, like peanuts, you may need to use a kitchen spray cleaner or sanitizing wipe as well as dishwashing liquid.

Stovetop Safety

Some people with allergies can get a reaction from food proteins released into the air in vapor or steam during cooking. These reactions are rare and usually mild. Make sure a sensitive person stays away from the kitchen during cooking and for 30 minutes after.

Allergy-Savvy Cleanup

Scrub the kitchen table and counters after preparing and eating food. Family members should also wash their hands before and after eating. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on October 26, 2012

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
 
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?
 

woman sneezing
Slideshow
Bottle of allergy capsules and daisies
Article
 
Urban blossoms
Slideshow
Woman blowing nose
Slideshow
 

Woman with itchy watery eyes
Slideshow
Allergy prick test
VIDEO
 
Man sneezing into tissue
Tools
woman with duster crinkling nose
Quiz